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Immigration, Accent Reduction, and Racial Neoliberalism

Thursday, October 1, 2020
4:00 pm - 6: pm
Immigration, Accent Reduction, and Racial Neoliberalism, presented by Vijay Ramjattan

Immigration, Accent Reduction, and Racial Neoliberalism

Vijay Ramjattan
October 1, 2020
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

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For skilled immigrants, whose accents allegedly hinder their employability in Canada and the US, "accent reduction" services are promoted as the means to transform their speech from professional liability to professional asset. While the accent reduction industry purports to help immigrants find employment, it is important to recognize how it is situated in and reflects systems of white supremacy and capitalism. This presentation specifically explores how accent reduction advertising reinforces ideologies of racial neoliberalism in its attempt to attract a mainly racialized clientele. Such advertising uses accent to "obscure" notions of racial difference and promote the structural irrelevance of race and racism in society. Suggestions on how to combat these harmful messages of accent reduction as well as the industry will be offered.

Vijay Ramjattan received his PhD in Adult Education and Community Development from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. His research interests pertain to the intersection of language, race, and work, and he is currently interested in the racialization of accent in workplace training.

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Abigail Meza
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